March 23, 2004 | Graham

Liberals slough toward despond in Brisbane

Leaked ALP polling says that the Liberal Party is due for yet another hiding in the Brisbane City Council election this Saturday. As of the week before last Labor had Liberal Lord Mayoral Candidate Campbell Newman peaking on only 32% of the vote. His vote’s alleged to have risen a little last week and to be down again this week.
Now you have to be careful with leaks, even if you have seen the documents, which I haven’t in this case. This is presumably a first preference vote, meaning that after distribution of Greens and other preferences it will be much higher. With a total Greens vote likely to be around 9%, it won’t be much higher. (Mind you, both Liberal and Labor are doing their best to drive this up with ads accusing the other of unspeakable crimes like lying and misrepresentation. Most voters regard politicians lying as being as natural as snakes hissing.)
The Liberal Party has lost at least one ward at every council election since 1991. At the last election they won 41% of the two-party preferred vote. If these Labor figures are right, then they’ve lost ground since then which could put the ward of Toowong within reach of Labor.
I’ve experienced a couple of things around here where I live that show why Labor is traveling so well. A week and a half ago I ran into a neighbour who was taking his little girl off to feed the ducks. I’ve lived around this area all my life and have never heard of anyone feeding the ducks this side of the Botanical Gardens before. Turns out that a fairly barren and uninteresting piece of park with an open drain in it which is officially called Coorparoo Creek has been turned into a wetland – the sort of place local Aboriginal tribes must have regarded as a restaurant going on the amount of fast food swimming in it. Couple this achievement with a burgeoning of bohemian looking European outdoor dining areas in other parts of the ward where there used to be only Lifeline bins; kilometers of bikeways; urban beautfication projects; and rubbish collected regularly and reliably and no wonder most people in Brisbane think our city is heading in the right direction.
The other thing was the arrival of an official council information brochure in my letter box asking for my views about the beautification of the Coorparoo shopping center. Not only is this a care-taker period when the Council and its officers should not be canvassing new initiatives, but as far as I can see this initiative is actually part of a list of campaign promises. How do you campaign against an administration which is prepared to so ruthlessly and unethically use council assets? Especially as no-one seems to care.
It’s not quite right that no-one cares. The Courier Mail has been campaigning on a number of council issues, including rates and the secretive nature of a council that suppresses flood maps and hydrological studies on the basis that residents won’t be able to understand them. But for these issues to bite all of the media need to be reporting the same problems as election issues, and the CM has been a lone and honourable voice. Everyone else has labeled challenger Campbell Newman as “stunt man” merely because he obligingly gives them an illustrative news item every day for their evening news bulletins.
The Liberals have made some campaign errors (but I won’t talk about them as I’ve offered some advice over the last 4 weeks) but no matter how good your campaign it is virtually impossible to win if there is no mood for change whatsoever.
So, despite that fact that ALP Lord Mayor Tim Quinn doesn’t appear to be working too hard in a job that just fell into his lap, it’s possible (on his polling – I’m not making a prediction) he might even increase his margin. Maybe Campbell Newman should take some time out and throw some bread to my local ducks. It must feel like he’s standing waist deep down in the mud next to them at the moment.

Posted by Graham at 11:02 pm | Comments Off on Liberals slough toward despond in Brisbane |
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